This paper examines how double exposure to both socio-economic and environmental stressors and the interaction between the two affect the population of the Northern coast of the São Paulo State, Brazil based on the conceptual and analytical framework developed by R. Leichenko and K.L. O’Brien. It provides a useful way to examine the multiple and overlapping processes of global change and, in particular, the places and the ways in which the economic and the non-economic interact. Interactions between economic and environmental change shape local landscapes of vulnerability and a major challenge for understanding vulnerability involves identifying how economic and environmental processes interact in particular places and how these interactions shape the effects of some global change processes and drive others. Pathways to increased vulnerability are multidimensional, so that socio-economic conditions may mediate the impacts of environmental change, but changing environmental conditions may also alter socio-economic capacities to maintain particular livelihood strategies. By analysing case studies of four municipalities that compound the region we found that people’s resilience, in general, are largely determined by the socio-economic context and the social vulnerability. Our finding indicate that socio-economic change brought about in the last three decades due to intense urbanization, tourism exploitation and increasingly economic activities have altered people’s livelihood and deepened social problems. We argue that the cross-scale nature of the problem and the cross-level interactions of these processes pose significant challenges for governance structures and institutions in place in the region that fail to address the roots of vulnerability and consequences of a changing environment.